Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Render unto Caesar



Should we pay or shouldn’t we?” But Jesus knew their hypocrisy. “Why are you trying to trap me?” he asked. “Bring me a denarius and let me look at it.” They brought the coin, and he asked them, “Whose image is this? And whose inscription?”
“Caesar’s,” they replied. (Mark 12:15-16 NIV)
With tax time upon us, something struck me about the passage above.

It’s from a very familiar, often-quoted passage which appears in Matthew, Mark, and Luke where the Pharisees and the Herodians are trying to trap Jesus into saying something that will cause him trouble.

After making a great (false) show of how righteous they thought Jesus was, they asked him if the Jews should pay taxes to Caesar.

They thought they had him on this one.

If he answered, “Yes” they could say he couldn’t possibly be the Messiah because they were convinced the Messiah would free them from Roman oppression. An affirmative answer, they reasoned, would greatly diminish his support and weaken him.

On the other hand, if he answered, “No” he would be guilty of rebellion and insurrection. He could have even possibly started a riot.

But…
Jesus said to them, “Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.” And they marveled at him. (Mark 12:17 ESV)
Jesus gives a heavenly, spiritual answer. It is a marvelous answer. The kingdom of God is not about money, so pay your taxes.

We “get” that.

But, it seems we tend to pass over the last half of his answer pretty quickly. If we are to render unto God the things that are God’s, just what are those things?

The Bible says God owns the cattle on a thousand hills. Everything on this earth was created by Him. So, what can we possibly give Him that He does not already have?

 The perfection of Jesus’ answer comes from the question he asked.

If the denarius bears Caesar’s image, what bears God’s image?
So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. (Genesis 1:27 ESV)

And what bears God’s inscription?
And you show that you are a letter from Christ delivered by us, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts. (2 Corinthians 3:3 ESV)

So, what do we give to God?

Submit yourselves therefore to God. (James 4:7a ESV)

Today’s Praise
All You've ever wanted, all You've ever wanted
All You've ever wanted was my heart
Freedom's arms are open, my chains have all been broken
Relentless love has called me from the start
And all You wanted was my heart.
(Chorus from “All You’ve Ever Wanted” by Casting Crowns.)

 

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